Lou Reed the now legendary singer, songwriter guitarist and founder of the Velevet Underground passed away today. His music with the Velvet Underground and much of his work as a solo artist meant a great deal to me. In the age of psychedelic experimentation Lou and his band mates, pioneered a sound that was smart, streetwise darker and far more relevant than what any of their contemporaries produced. This often, stripped down and distortion fueled music, played a central in the development of many genres especially punk new wave and what is now called alternative. Lou’s dedication to the New York scene and his distinct new york attitude, and lyrical skill have made him the unofficial poet laureate of New York City in the eyes of many listeners.
Perhaps his most remembered piece was Walk on the Wild Side, which appeared on Lou’s David Bowie produced album Transformer:
Another highlight from that same album is this track:
For me Lou’s best work and most pioneering work, will always be the material he recorded with the Velvet Underground. These are some of my favorites:
While he could write straight forward rock songs Lou, was often capable shocking his audience and taking risks. His double album of Guitar feed back “Metal Machine Music” comes to mind as does Berlin, the surprisingly dark concept album that followed transformer. Much of his later work was very well developed lyrically such as this piece from his 1989 release New York:
or this one from his album the Blue Mask:
Lou Reed’s music has made my life fuller and richer and has made rock music much more edgier, intelligent and mature than it would have otherwise been and for that I cannot thank him enough.